Medicare Part B penalty


Q. I am 68 years old and signed up for Medicare Part A before my 66th birthday. I have not signed up for Part B for several reasons.

1. My husband is 60 years old and we have insurance coverage with Federal Employee Plan Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

2. We are posted out of the country, in the Czech Republic.

3. I have no occasion here to use Medicare or incur its costs.

Health costs are self-paid upfront in full and then partially reimbursed by our insurance company.

I believe individuals are penalized 10 percent per year for not signing up for Medicare when they are 66.

It will have been five years past that stipulation when we return to the U.S. and I am 70. My husband swore an oath of availability for worldwide service when he joined the State Department.

Why will I be penalized up to 50 percent for not acquiring Part B, a service that I don’t need and cannot use?

A. Because you were either enrolled in or covered by a group health plan when you first became eligible to get Medicare Part B, there won’t be any penalty. Under special enrollment period rules, you may enroll during any month that you are covered by a group plan or during the eight-month period that begins the first full month that you are no longer covered under that plan based on current employment. Whether you decide to enroll in Part B or not is up to you. Just check with your plan to find out how your decision will affect your plan benefits.


About Author

Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to

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